HOLLIDAYSBURG - Blair County commissioners took another step toward completing the sale of Valley View Home by voting 2-1 Thursday to sign a sales agreement and related documents defining access to the property and its utilities.
The transfer of Valley View Home to Reliant Senior Care of Philadelphia is likely to occur during the summer, Commissioners Chairman Terry Tomassetti said.
"We've indicated a time frame of June 1 to July 1, but there's no guarantees on this as there's a process to follow," Tomassetti said.
The buyer now will be expected to post an additional $1.5 million down payment toward the selling price of $16.5 million. The down payment is in addition to the $150,000 submitted by Reliant with its bid.
"It's really a good deal for the county," Commissioner Diane Meling said after the meeting, where she and Tomassetti cast their votes that will keep the process moving toward a closing date on the sale of the 240-bed nursing home.
Commissioner Ted Beam Jr., who opposes the sale, cast a dissenting vote.
While the agreement will permit all current Valley View residents to remain there as long as they qualify for skilled nursing care, the home's employees complained Thursday about being left out of the process.
"Six months ago, you brought up the sale of our county home, and from the start, you said this would be an open process. You promised a smooth transition," nurse aide Dawn Futrell told commissioners on behalf of the Service Employees International Union. "The last six months have been anything but smooth."
The sales agreement indicates that Reliant will recognize the union, which represents the home's nursing aides, licensed practical nurses, plus dietary, housekeeping and activities staffers, and the Office and Professional Employees International Union, which represents the home's registered nurses.
Futrell said employees have many questions about the pending ownership transition concerning their pay and benefits.
Union representatives were scheduled to meet earlier this week with county labor attorney Dave Andrews, but that meeting was canceled after commissioners postponed Tuesday's vote on the sales agreement until Thursday.
Meling said that meeting couldn't be held before the vote on the sales agreement, but the meeting will be rescheduled.
"We understand that there's a lot of uncertainty and questions in their mind," Meling said.
Andrews said that he will meet with representatives of both unions to review matters such as accrued benefits including vacation time, sick days, retirement options and pension obligations.
"I kind of refer to it as transitional bargaining," Andrews said. "We'll be looking at the existing contract obligations and making sure that the county is in compliance. ... Typically, you need a month or two to work through these issues."
Andrews said he does not represent Reliant so he will not be able to address employee questions concerning its plans.
Documents approved also spell out property access and easement options, county Solicitor Nathan Karn said. The county is retaining acreage to the rear of Valley View, but it will allow Reliant to make use of an access route leading to a parking area, delivery area and the neighboring soccer fields that the county will retain.
The sale will transfer ownership of one picnic pavilion regularly used by Valley View residents and require the moving of one disc golf tee.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.